I blogged before about extravagant worship, concerning which I believe the Scripture has some important things to say. The Lord has been opening up a little bit more to me about this subject, of late. I have observed what else is involved in situations where worship is radically expressed in an abandoned way.
It came first when I was prophesying over someone. I remembered the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with the costly perfume as told in John 12:1-8, and how it says that ‘the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume’ – in other words, this was atmosphere-changing worship. That’s what I’m after! On just a few occasions (and I wish it were more), I have been in worship services where everyone has been so engaged in worship, really pressing in deeply, and there has been an atmospheric shift because the Lord loves to come and be enthroned on the praises of His people.
But it also occurred to me afterwards that it also brought out stark offense in one who already had a hard heart towards Jesus – that is, Judas Iscariot. The Bible speaks in various places of the distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous becoming more marked (Isaiah 60:2; Malachi 3:18; Matthew 13:29-30), and this seems to be one of the ways it happens. Judas becomes offended with what seems to be waste, but it is clear that there is an inner problem within him which is not betrayed by the words he uses; in other words, he blurts something out to try and contest what is happening in religious terms, but really he has selfish motivations as John makes clear (John 12:6).
Then I turned my thoughts to another of the passages that I referred to in my blog on extravagant worship, namely 2 Samuel 6, and the story of David dancing before the Lord ‘with all his might’, dressed only in a linen ephod, which was a priestly garment. Especially in Old Testament times, this was an ESPECIALLY outrageous manner of worship, as they made sacrifices at very short intervals all the way from Obed-edom’s house to Jerusalem as the ark was carried on that route. First of all, that whole story is about atmospheric change, both in the fact that the ark was that which carried the presence of God in the Old Testament, and in that they offered so many sacrifices – you’d better believe they were aromatic, as all those animals were killed and then cooked! Jerusalem would have been full of the smell of food, and hopefully, the presence of God. And what was David doing the whole time? Dancing wildly.
And interestingly, again, we see an individual rise up in more virulent opposition to what is going on, this time, Michal, Saul’s daughter and grudging wife of David. “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today!” She says sarcastically. Michal says that David UNCOVERED himself, but as we have mentioned, it is distinct that he wore the priestly ephod. She didn’t recognise his worship. All she could see was on a human level, what others might have thought of him.
I’m not even sure what encouragement we are to take from this apparent evidence that extravagant worship will probably cause a bit of opposition, but I guess it’s no surprise. This kind of worship does looking alarming and barmy to some, but it’s what people do who are completely sold out and in love with God. It’s just what they do. Sadly I know others who have made some comment or other about the ‘crazy’ way in which some people worship. Somehow forgetting that we’re not here to pass judgment, and until you yourself are worshiping as you know you should because of your love for God, it’s difficult to justify being able to criticise other peoples’ relationship with God. The Bible does say that we are to love God with our WHOLE heart, mind, soul, and strength, and that this is the most important commandment. If it’s with ALL of those, it’s going to look like more than a quiet little thank you prayer on a Sunday morning, I somehow think!
Anyway, whatever it means that some will be offended with extravagant worship, I guess it IS encouragement, because it demonstrates that there really is an atmospheric shift taking place, and that the distinctions are becoming evident to reveal hearts and not keep things hidden that need to be dealt with.